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Authors: Carla Krae

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BOOK: Compelled
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Drug or magic, I felt it start to work,
slowing my reflexes and making sounds seem far away.

“…Tell me, Adamo…tell me where to find your
family.”

“I don’t know! It was years ago.”

“He’s lying. Push harder.”

Juliet took hold of my chin and bent down to
stare into my eyes. She pried one lid open with her other hand.

Adamo. Tell me the absolute truth. Where are your family and
what are their names?

God help me, I did. She wormed so deep into
my mind, she might have snatched the information out. The psychic
attack left me shaking and colder than my dead body already was. My
only hope was the knowledge was over a year old, from Mother’s
visit for my last birthday in the monastery, and rural Italy wasn’t
the streets of Rome, Paris, or London with street names and
addresses. Any of my sister’s husbands could have moved them away.
From our current location in Vienna, it would take days to reach
one of the settlements.

“Tell the men we move at nightfall,” she
said.

“What about him?”

“Keep him in chains. He cannot have the
chance to warn them.” With a final cold look in my direction, she
stomped out of the room. I didn’t want to know what she would do to
exercise her temper.

Vittore remained.

Staring.

“Get it over with,” I said.

He continued to glare.

“Whatever punishment you think I deserve
today, do it.”

“You possess intelligence, Adamo, but you are
an idiot. I don’t understand why she keeps you. You have been a
constant disappointment. If you had any sense of self-preservation,
you would have recognized the gift she gave you the first night she
lifted you out of the dark.”


You
are the deluded fool for
worshipping her, Vittore. It will lead to your eternal ruin.”

He laughed. “Back to the Bible again, are we?
We’re gods on Earth, Adamo. It is just words on paper.”

“The Book and the cross wouldn’t burn without
power behind them. How much more proof do you need?”

“The people give them power, boy, not any
deity. Belief gave the legends of old power until the belief faded
away. No one worships Zeus or Odin anymore, and one day no one will
worship your god, either. It’s the nature of mortals—they change
their minds.”

It wasn’t the first time we’d had this
argument, and if I remained a prisoner, I doubted it would be the
last. But I knew—
I knew
—he would burn in Hell one day.

“No retort?”

“You are hopeless,” I said. He laughed.

“Hope is the denial of reality, boy. Sooner
you accept what is, the better off you will be. I’ll return for you
at dusk.”

****

Juliet set out to sever my ties to the mortal
world and make me watch while she did. One of my younger sisters’
homes was first. Compelled to knock on her door, I rapped my fist
on it three times and waited.

She blinked when she saw me and it took a
moment for the memories to surface. “Adamo?”

“Good evening, Serafina.”

“How…what…Mama will be very cross with you
for not telling her you are alright!”

“I am sorry. I have not been able.”
Please
don’t ask, please don’t ask

“Well, come in, come in, and tell me all I
have missed.”

Her fate sealed, I walked across her
threshold with Juliet behind me. I watched, unable to act while she
attacked and drained my little sister of her life’s blood.
Serafina’s mouth was covered by Juliet’s hand, but her eyes…her
eyes begged me to help her, then showed such betrayal I could not
stand it.

When my sister went limp, Juliet looked up at
me and laughed at the tears streaking my cheeks. Then, she bit her
wrist and trickled her blood into my sister’s mouth, and dropped
the body.

“Follow me,” she ordered, searching the rest
of the house.

No…Please, God…

We found a nursery. A baby’s room.

Juliet didn’t bite the child and I began to
hope some mercy had befallen upon my nephew. That seed of hope died
when my sire laid the baby in my sister’s arms.

“Sit and watch.”

I did. There was no other choice. Time
passed, I don’t know how much.

My sister opened red eyes, the eyes of a
monster.

“Sera--” The baby cried.

Those red eyes dropped to the squirming prey
in her lap and I saw her new fangs descend. To my everlasting
horror, she greedily fed from her own offspring. I wanted to snatch
the baby away and run, but my feet wouldn’t move. My fingernails
dug bloody welts into my palms, the only sign of my impotent
rage.

“This is only the beginning, Adamo. Keep
fighting me, and I will make everyone you love just like this.”

Serafina dropped the corpse and rose to her
feet to meet her maker, blood dripping from her chin and staining
her dress.

“Is everyone in your family so pretty, Adamo?
Maybe I’ll keep this one.”


No
.”

The command to watch complete, I regained use
of my limbs. The chair leg plunged into my sister’s chest with
ease.

Her eyes faded to brown an instant before her
body disintegrated to dust.

“That was rude, childe. Oh, well…” Juliet
cleaned her face with a rag, stepped over the pile of ash, and went
to the door. “Follow, Adamo.”

Feeling the tug of my supernatural leash, I
was forced to leave the scene without burying my poor nephew.
Serafina’s husband would receive a terrible shock when he came home
and it was all my fault.

I could not let this happen again.

When Juliet let me go to bed that morning
alone, I lay there trying to overcome the command on my body. And
prayed. I did not deserve forgiveness, but my family was innocent
and I was the only one who could save them. I fought with the
demon’s fear of disobeying its master until I felt it weaken in the
face of my resolve.

Grief? Rage? Divine intervention? It did not
matter why I moved, but I sat up, hung my legs over the side of the
bed, and stood. A lead weight gathered in my stomach, the warning
to not push against her command. Breathing through the unease, I
gathered my belongings in silence.

The clan had partied due to Juliet’s good
mood about her successful evening and I could feel the house was
dead this close to dawn, but I still needed to be quiet to have any
chance of escaping. She had taken Vittore into her bedchamber, so
that was one more plus in my favor. I crept down the stairs and
encountered no one in my journey out the back to the stable.

Vowing to one day be strong enough to kill
Juliet, Vittore, and the whole damn lot of them, I left on a stolen
horse and urged the beast to put as many miles between them and me
as possible before sunrise.

****

Stopping at an inn in the opposite direction
of my foe’s next target, I got safely inside just in time and
grabbed the stable boy. “Can you ride?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“Good.” Finding quill and paper, I sketched a
quick note. “Deliver this where I tell you with your best speed and
there’s a whole coin in it for you.”

“Yes, sir!” He was a spindly youth, not yet
grown into his limbs, but he seemed capable enough.

I told him where to deliver the note and what
to say and sent him off. The innkeeper eyed me warily at this hour
until I produced twice what the room was worth for the night. He
took the coins without complaint and handed me a key.

“You need a meal?”

“No, sir. Just the bed will do, and to not be
disturbed.”

He grunted and left once he’d pointed to the
right door. The bed was serviceable. I didn’t need much after
living a monk’s life for so long, though the luxury Juliet
preferred had been nice. In another bit of providence, the room was
without windows, so I would be hidden from the sun.

I could not move about during the day, but
neither could my enemies. The tension easing between my shoulder
blades, I sat down to write more letters to send off. I hoped
Mother could leave home in time. If Juliet was truly determined to
exterminate my family, she might resort to more drastic measures
now she didn’t have me for invites.

For the moment, I was safe. First time in a
year. With a dagger and wooden stake under my pillow, I slept.

My days of independence started with a
routine of running the horse most of the night and finding shelter
for the day. Sunlight stung, a lesson Juliet taught me. She thought
it amusing to compel me to hurt myself in the early days. The
months with the vampires showed me many things about the modern
world. She wasn’t a patient teacher and left most of the work to
Vittore. His contempt for me was evident in every word and deed,
but he was fair, possessing an odd code of honor for a murderer,
and instructed me in the current affairs of men. Most importantly,
I knew how to avoid trouble.

When I reached Rome, I hoped the great
population would help me hide. I secured a room and discreetly
asked for a young woman to be sent to me. Vittore taught me
prostitutes were easy prey, though my plans for them were slightly
nobler than his.

There was a knock on my door a few minutes
after I went upstairs.

“Enter.”

A girl came in, maybe no more than seventeen.
She was reasonably pretty, with black hair to her waist and
delicate bone structure. “How may I please you, sir?” When I turned
around from washing the road dirt off my face, she smiled. She
still had good teeth.

I extended my hand. “Dance with me?”

She put her hand in mine, an amused glint in
her eyes. “But sir, there’s no music.”

Twirling her around, I made her laugh, and
proceeded to lead her in a simple waltz. She picked up the steps
with ease, enjoying the unique request. Women found me attractive
and mastering the ability to charm them hadn’t taken much time with
Juliet compelling my confidence. When I kissed the girl, she
eagerly participated.

Making her breathless, I kissed down her
throat until I found the artery and gently slid my fangs into her
skin. She moaned, her fingers clinging to my shoulders. I fed until
she grew sleepy and laid her on the bed. I always slept on the
floor.

The routine repeated every time I got hungry.
By the time the girls awakened, I was out of the room and they
thought they’d had a gentle customer.

I’d never kill again if I could help it.

****

Rome had been my home for nearly two weeks
when I received a visitor. I sat at the back of another tavern,
sipping ale, when I felt the presence of family—vampiric family.
Slipping my hand beneath my cloak, I felt for the dagger always at
my side.

“Still, Adamo. If I wanted you dead, you
would be.” Vittore sat at my table and signaled the bar maid for a
drink.

“Why are you here?”

“Curiosity. I wanted to see how the young
wolf was faring on his own. Ate anyone good lately?”

“If I did, I wouldn’t be sharing.”

He grinned. “Touché.” The bar maid came to
take his order. “A bottle of your best wine for me and my
friend.”

“Is Juliet here as well?” I asked, hoping the
query sounded casual.

“Nah. She wanted to head north. I
didn’t.”

“Thought you were her devoted dog.”

His dull brown eyes narrowed on me and I
worried I had pressed my luck. “Careful, boy.”

“Speak plainly—are you here to drag me
back?”

He dropped all pretense of friendship.

No
. Even if you wanted to beg forgiveness, I would strike
you down.”

“Then why find me if you despise me so?”

“To tell you, boy, that you owe me for your
freedom. Do you think you broke her thrall all on your own?”

He helped me? “I thought--”

“Oh.” He laughed. “You thought--” He
continued to laugh, drawing eyes to our table. Done with his
mockery, I stood to leave. Vittore grabbed my arm with an iron
grip. “
Sit
.”

I took to my seat again, but only to avoid
trouble. “Why would you break her spell?”


Because
, you idiot, you don’t
belong--”

The truth dawned on me. “You’re in love with
her.”

Certainly, I had heard him say the word
before, but I never thought he meant it. His jealousy had seemed
like nothing more than possessiveness over his mate, the same many
animals showed every day. He wasn’t capable of true love, but he
felt enough for her to view me as a threat.

Knowing his weakness gave me a feeling of
power.

A growl rumbled in his chest at the
interruption. Crimson bled into his irises and for a second, I
thought he would give away our nature in front of all the
humans.

“You deserve each other,” I continued. “The
only threat either of you face from me is at the point of a
stake.”


Try it
. Vampires have a rule,
Adamo—
you
do not kill your maker
. Leave them, hate
them, curse their name, but you
do not
slay an elder.”

“Do you mean to say you would forfeit your
life if she attacked you?” The idea was absurd.

“Yes,” he said with absolute conviction. “My
body and my blood are hers, same as you.”

“I belong to no one.”

He shook his head and stood with his bottle
of wine. “You really are a fool.”

Vittore left with the last word, but I felt I
won something from the exchange. While I hated the idea of him
assisting me, I valued his presence as an obstacle to Juliet
reclaiming me. The constant fear of the past ten days released its
grip on my chest and I could breathe.

I ordered another pint and considered where
in this world of wonders I wanted to go next. For an immortal, the
possibilities were endless.

The End

 

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BOOK: Compelled
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ads

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